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Ex-Fort Carson soldier sentenced to life without parole in escort slaying

By LANCE BENZEL | The Gazette (Tribune News Service) | Published: February 21, 2017

An El Paso County jury deliberated for less than two hours this week before convicting an ex-Fort Carson soldier in the brutal slaying of a Colorado Springs woman.

Jonathan Paul Nelson, 29, was found guilty of all counts, including first-degree murder, Tuesday in the June 2015 death of Ashley Melnyczok.

After the verdict was announced, 4th Judicial District Judge Marla Prudek imposed the only sentence available under the circumstances: life without parole.

"We're happy with the verdict, but we have a second trial coming up," prosecutor Michael Allen said, referring to Nelson's co-defendant, Joseph Kimsey, who is due to face a jury March 6 on similar charges of first-degree murder.

Melnyczok, a sex worker who advertised online, was targeted for up to $20,000 in cash she kept under her bed.

She was found beaten and stabbed in her Colorado Springs apartment with a plastic bag taped around her head.

A bloody fingerprint on the bag was a match to Nelson, and other items inside the apartment had DNA linked to Kimsey, who had an on-again, off-again romantic relationship with the victim.

Kimsey and Nelson met in the El Paso County jail in the weeks before the murder and initially plotted to steal from Melnyczok as a means of getting money to post bond.

Their plan - which called for killing Melnyczok if she were home at the time of the burglary they planned - continued even after both men were released from custody, authorities say.

Nelson was arrested two days after the killing, following a dramatic car chase in Colorado Springs that began after he returned to the scene of the crime. After the chase, police found a so-called body disposal bag in his car filled with tarp, handcuffs and other items.

Kimsey was later arrested in Canon City driving a car that had belonged to Melnyczok.

Opening statements in the case were Feb. 2.

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©2017 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
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Jonathan Paul Nelson, 29, was found guilty of all counts, including first-degree murder, Tuesday in the June 2015 death of Ashley Melnyczok.
COURTESY COLORADO SPRINGS POLICE

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